Experience of discrimination reported during pregnancy and infant's emerging effortful control

Kenia M. Rivera, Kimberly L. D'Anna-Hernandez, Benjamin L. Hankin, Elysia Poggi Davis, Jenalee R. Doom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Discrimination reported during pregnancy is associated with poorer offspring emotional outcomes. Links with effortful control have yet to be examined. This study investigated whether pregnant individuals’ reports of lifetime racial/ethnic discrimination and everyday discrimination (including but not specific to race/ethnicity) reported during pregnancy were associated with offspring emerging effortful control at 6 months of age. Pregnant individuals (N = 174) and their offspring (93 female infants) participated. During pregnancy, participants completed two discrimination measures: (1) lifetime experience of racial/ethnic discrimination, and (2) everyday discrimination (not specific to race/ethnicity). Parents completed the Infant Behavior Questionnaire—Revised when infants were 6 months old to assess orienting/regulation, a measure of emerging effortful control. Analyses were conducted in a subsample with racially/ethnically marginalized participants and then everyday discrimination analyses were repeated in the full sample. For racially/ethnically marginalized participants, greater everyday discrimination (β = −.27, p =.01) but not greater lifetime experience of racial/ethnic discrimination (β = −.21, p =.06) was associated with poorer infant emerging effortful control. In the full sample, greater everyday discrimination was associated with poorer infant emerging effortful control (β = −.24, p =.002). Greater perceived stress, but not depressive symptoms, at 2 months postnatal mediated the association between everyday discrimination and emerging effortful control. Further research should examine additional biological and behavioral mechanisms by which discrimination reported during pregnancy may affect offspring emerging effortful control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22455
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
  • discrimination
  • effortful control
  • infant
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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